Backstage

  • Celebrity Stylist Sean James
  • Sean prepping Weird Al for the 'Perform This Way' shoot
  • Weird Al sporting one of the Lady Gaga styles from the video
  • Sean used tons of Superfine to hold the various looks in place
  • Sean on set
  • Sean styling a Madonna-inspired model for a scene in the video<br />
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"Perform This Way"

Hair by Sean James

Celebrity stylist Sean James has worked on numerous music videos throughout his 20-year career, including videos for Rufus Wainwright and Courtney Love, but it’s a safe bet to assume that his most recent on-set experience was his most unusual and entertaining. James joined forces with longtime client Weird Al Yankovic for a high-energy video for “Perform This Way,” a spoof of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” He let us in on what it took to prepare for the shoot and what it’s like working with musicians.




How did you come up with the 10-plus looks featured in the video?


Al sent over pictures of all of Lady Gaga’s looks as a reference tool. We went over them together and then adapted them to fit the lyrics he had written. We had dolls coming out of the hair, a giant pyramid, and more.

Tell us about creating the looks.


I hand-made all the wigs. It took a lot of time and effort because they had to be perfect. If you look at the wig with the honeybees, that was hand-sewn and then set. My assistant, Stephanie, was incredibly helpful. Having a competent assistant is key. We had two days to prep all the wigs, then about 15 minutes to get each one ready between takes. It was a long shoot, but Al and I were always the first ones on set because we were so excited!

Did you use any Oribe products on set?


Yes, I used a lot of Oribe Superfine during the shoot to get the hair to stay in place during all of the dancing. Some of my other favorites are Volumista and Foundation Mist. I’m using those a lot backstage at Talking Dead, a new talk show on AMC that’s hosted by Chris Hardwick.

Where are the wigs now?


They are all archived. Al has one with him on tour. By the way, if you’ve never experienced a Weird Al Yankovic concert, you absolutely have to go see him.

Give us some inside scoop – was Weird Al really doing all of those dance moves in the video


No, not all of them. There were dancers wearing the costumes and wigs and doing the moves – Al’s face was then superimposed onto their bodies. He can move pretty well, though!

Have you ever met Lady Gaga?


Yes, I met her at an amFAR gala that I attended with Rufus Wainwright—before the “Perform This Way” project came about. She wanted to meet Rufus, so we went backstage. She was a total trip. She told us something like, “I just arrived in the mouth of a whale riding on a rainbow.” It would be so much fun to do her hair someday.

What’s your advice to other stylists about working with musicians?


It’s important to leave your ego behind and remember that you’re just part of a team that includes hair, makeup, wardrobe and the artist. Knowing your place is essential. You’re there to be of service. Serve your clients in a way that makes them feel better or helps them realize their artistic vision.

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